Leading global alliance signs Africa’s leading unaligned airline
oneworld’s first full member from the continent – and first recruit globally for six years
Royal Air Maroc is to join oneworld®, adding one of Africa’s leading and fastest growing airlines to the world’s premier airline alliance.
Its election as a oneworld member designate was announced as the Chief Executives of the alliance’s 13 current member airlines gathered in New York for their year-end Governing Board meeting, just weeks before the alliance celebrates the 20thanniversary of its launch.
Royal Air Maroc is expected to be implemented into oneworld in mid-2020, when it will start flying alongside some of the biggest and best brands in the airline business. Its regional subsidiary Royal Air Maroc Express will join as a oneworld affiliate member at the same time.
From then, the recruits will offer the full range of oneworld customer services and benefits, with the one million plus members of Royal Air Maroc’s Safar Flyer loyalty programme able to earn and redeem rewards on all oneworld member airlines, and with its top tier members able to use the alliance’s more than 650 airport lounges worldwide.
Until then, it is business as usual for Royal Air Maroc and oneworld and its existing member airlines.
While Southern Africa’s Comair, which flies as a franchisee of British Airways, has been a oneworld affiliate member since the alliance lauched in February 1999, Royal Air Maroc will be oneworld’s first full member from Africa – the only continent, apart from Antarctica, where the alliance has, until now, had no full member.
It will also be the alliance’s first new full member airline signed since 2012 – although Fiji Airways links to the alliance from today as its first oneworld connect partner, the first new membership platform since the alliance was established.
Royal Air Maroc is today the largest unaligned carrier in Africa – with a transformational strategy well underway to develop it quickly into a truly global airline and the continent’s leader in terms of both size and quality.
It carried 7.3 million passengers last year on a fleet of 55 aircraft, with a network that currently connects its Casablanca base with 94 destinations in 49 countries across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North and South America, including oneworld hubs Doha, London Heathrow, Madrid, Moscow Domodedovo, New York JFK and Sao Paulo.
Its schedule today will add 34 new destinations and 21 countries to the oneworld map, taking the alliance’s network to 1,069 airports in 178 countries and territories
Under its ambitious five-year plan, it plans to expand its fleet significantly, carrying 13 million passengers a year across a global network serving 121 destinations in 68 countries. This will add another 15 destinations and nine countries to the alliance network – giving the alliance a total of 1,084 destinations in 187 countries and territories.
Three established oneworld member airlines – British Airways, Iberia and Qatar Airways – currently serve three destinations in Morocco between them: Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier.
oneworld Governing Board Chairman Alan Joyce, Group CEO of Qantas, said: “We’re pleased to welcome Royal Air Maroc to oneworld. Africa is the last major region where oneworld does not have a full member airline – and has one of the fastest predicted air travel growth rates over the next few decades. Royal Air Maroc will deliver greater value for more customers worldwide as we expand our alliance network to a new region.”
oneworld CEO Rob Gurney noted: “When we unveiled our new membership platform oneworld connect in June, we said that in the future oneworld would target as full members large airlines that have a significant presence in the alliance’s prime target market, providing connections between the world’s leading business centres. Royal Air Maroc is growing into a truly global airline, with its home base Casablanca to be developed into Africa’s leading aviation gateway while also consolidating its place as Africa’s number one financial centre.”
Royal Air Maroc CEO Abdelhamid Addou said: “Royal Air Maroc is excited and honored to have been invited to become oneworld’s wings of Africa. We look forward to completing our flight on board speedily and smoothly so that we can offer the services and benefits of the world’s best airline alliance to our customers and across our own network as soon as possible. We will be flying alongside the finest collection of air carriers in the skies, while at the same time making it easier for people all over the world to reach our historic and beautiful part of the world. This undoubtedly represents one of the most significant landmarks in our airline’s 60-year history and on our journey to establish Royal Air Maroc as the leading airline of Africa.”
About Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc is the flag carrier of Morocco. It carried last year 7.3 million passengers on an average of 245 daily departures. Its current fleet of 55 aircraft is centered on Boeing 737-800s and Embraer 190s on short to medium-haul routes, with Boeing 767 and Boeing 787-8s flying longhaul services. It receives its first 787-900s this month (December 2018). Its regional affiliate Royal Air Maroc Express operates five ATR 72s.
Under its five-year growth plan, its fleet will increase significantly, as it extends the reach of its network from the current 94 destinations to 121. It will also raise frequencies in many established markets making virtually all short and mediumhaul markets at least daily and, in many cases, multiple frequencies a day, turning its Casablanca base – where in the coming few weeks, it will move into a completely rebuilt, state-of-the-art Terminal 1 – into a fully-fledged transfer hub.
Royal Air Maroc offers a two-class Business and Economy product on most international routes, including seats that convert to angle lie-flat beds in its premium cabin.
It is undergoing significant investment in product and marketing, with a new brand image and marketing content, cabin refits, redesign and new uniforms all planned in the coming months. In the past five years, its improved service and quality levels have been recognised with Skytrax raising its quality rating to four stars.
In 2017, the airline and its subsidiaries generated revenues of US$ 1.7 billion, achieving operating profits of US$ 48.5 million. It employs 5,413 people. Royal Air Maroc, which celebrated the 60th anniversary of its foundation this year, is 98 per cent owned by the state of Morocco.
It already code-shares with Qatar Airways and with oneworld’s partner Iberia and S7 Airlines. It is expected to develop further links with other oneworld member airlines as it prepares to join the group.
ATCNews : Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome is the publisher of ATCNews, Eastern Africa’s leading aviation, tourism and conservation news blog of its kind. Wolfgang has over 45 years of experience in the tourism, aviation and conservation fields in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, covering all aspects of safari operations, hotel operations and air operations. Since 1992 he resides in Uganda, previously living for 17 years in Kenya.